According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, "Fifteen percent to 30 percent of people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs and people with dog allergies may be allergic to all dogs or to only some breeds." Allergic reactions can become dangerous and life threatening, so choosing the best breed if you have pet allergies can be crucial. Chihuahuas may not be the best choice for allergy sufferers.
The Chihuahua dog got its breed name from the Mexican state of Chihuahua where the dog originated. The little dog was used in religious ceremonies and mostly belonged to the upper class. In the late '90s the Chihuahua achieved fame from a series of Taco Bell commercials.
The Chihuahua has a small body, large ears and eyes, and can have either a short or long coat. Both the short-haired and the long-haired Chihuahua do not require much grooming. They do not shed, or shed very little which has led some to believe that the Chihuahua is hypoallergenic. This is not the case, however, as the Mayo Clinic points out "while the absence of shed fur may reduce exposure to dog allergens, a person allergic to dogs would still be allergic to nonshedding breeds."
According to the Mayo Clinic website, "A pet allergen can prompt inflammation in air passages and prolonged exposure can cause the ongoing (chronic) inflammation associated with asthma." The animal protein, or dander, kicks the immune system into high gear. In the nasal passages and lungs, it creates an inflammatory response.
The typical allergen produced by pets is their dander, "a protein found either in an animal's skin cells, saliva or urine," according to the Mayo Clinic website. The dander does not come from the hair as some believe, but it can collect on the fur along with other airborne allergens. Some breeds create less dander than others. Per the American Kennel Club, the Chihuahua is not on their list of dog breeds recommended for people with allergies.
As a Pet
Guard dogs can come in small packages. The Chihuahua is fiercely loyal, intelligent and protective. They are popular among the elderly, apartment and city dwellers. Chihuahuas have a big heart and a big ego, are a bit temperamental and live a long life. Though no dog is truly hypoallergenic, the best way to find out if you are allergic to Chihuahuas is to spend some time with one.